Sister City program prepares to welcome French guests

Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 09:36 AM.

“Oh, we had such a good time,” Aileen Barley recalled. “They are such very nice people.”

Exchanges between the two communities include educational, cultural and economic components. When a group from Crestview last visited Noirmoutier in 2010 for the 65th observance of France’s liberation at the end of World War II, two members of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce went along and studied the island’s industries.

During this year’s visit, a member of the University of Nantes faculty will meet with chamber of commerce leaders to establish student internship exchanges. Informal exchanges have already been taking place. Last summer, a French journalism student interned with the News Bulletin.

Every two years, the Soundsations and Madrigal show choirs of Northwest Florida State College travel to Noirmoutier for performances, and Crestview High School French Club members have also made visits to the island. During the exchanges, participants always stay with host families to experience more fully the local culture.

Lasting impressions

During Monday evening’s host orientation at the Crestview Public Library, Sister City members told host families that how they welcome their guests will help form lasting impressions of the entire country. Noirmoutrin students who visited in Crestview in 2009 recently said their memories of their experience are all positive.

“I was struck by the desire of my host family to share their culture, welcoming me into the family so that I felt at home and consider myself a part of the family,” Bruno Gallais said.

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